Practo: a healthcare app bridging the gap between patients and doctors

The Practo app allows a patient to reach a medical professional with a few clicks on their phone. Currently the app is available in 35 Indian cities along with a few countries around the world. Practo has introduced a new way healthcare is seen by patients while giving them a lot of power over their own health. Patients can now conduct extensive research and find a suitable healthcare professional for their problems. Currently, Practo is one of the world’s largest healthcare appointment booking platforms that connects millions of patients to over 200,000 healthcare professionals around the world.

The app was created with a ‘Patient First’ approach where the healthcare industry, using the help of technology, is transformed to be centered around the patient. Introduced in 2013, the Practo app allows a potential patient to discover doctors who may be suitable for them and then proceed to book an appointment with them instantly. As of June 2016, over 40 million appointments are booked every year.

With the app users can find both doctors and clinics in their city. Once logged in, choose your city and you will then be faced with three main tabs to choose from. The first tab is labelled Speciality and is an important feature of the app as it determines what you see next. Once the user picks their speciality, whether it’s cardiovascular, dermatology, psychiatrist, for example, you can see the number of healthcare professionals available for each speciality with a counter displayed in the corner of the screen.

The great part of the app is that for each search result, the user can see the card of each doctor which provides a quick snapshot of their work. The fields in the card include the doctor’s experience, consultation fees, address, feedback along with a Like button which is linked to their official Facebook page. The card is a great touch as it allows the user to see if the doctor matches the patients’ requirements. For example, if you are looking for a seasoned dermatologist with over 15 years of experience, you may not want to book an appointment with someone who recently opened their dermatology practice.

After picking a medical professional you click on their card. This directs the user to another screen that provides further information regarding the doctor and shows the appointment slots that are currently available. This is aimed at making it easy to book an appointment and for some users it serves as an indication of the doctor’s popularity. This screen also tells the user which hospital the doctor practices at. Everything that is not provided in the snapshot card can be found on this second screen.

When searching for doctors, the filter function will be handy for every user. The filter allows you to tailor your search according to your requirements. This could include setting a ceiling on the consultation fees that you are willing to pay for an appointment, looking in only a certain location or the gender preference of the doctor. If you are a busy professional, you may be looking for a doctor near your workplace for a quick lunchtime appointment, while other users may not mind choosing a doctor located on the other end of town. Either way, the filter function gives you the freedom to choose. This is one of the ways in which Practo is an app that puts the patient first.

Practo app also comes with the ability to automatically sync with your Google maps to provide the exact location and direct you to your appointment. If the GPS on your smartphone is turned on, the app even lets you see doctors that are located near you. Along with this information Practo allows you to keep track of your appointments on a personalized dashboard.

When healthcare is involved, data security is of high priority. The Practo app is available on both Android and iOS and all user data is treated as highly sensitive. Since Practo is primarily a healthcare data company, it takes strict measures to protect the integrity of that data. Data passes through multiple network security layers which allows Practo to detect any unusual activity that may be taking place. All data on their servers is backed up in unique secure locations around the world. Using a feature called point-in-time recovery service, Practo can securely retrieve data from a specific time period.

The app also uses a two step authentication process, similar to what is found in most banks that provide online access to customers. In order to login you will need not only your user details but also a code that will have to be entered. The code will either be sent straight to the Practo app on your smartphone or via an SMS on your registered mobile number.

Currently the Practo app and website are available in 50 cities across India along with 15 countries worldwide  including Brazil, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

When it was first started, Practo took into account the fact that traditionally doctors are resistant to new technology and would probably oppose the idea. Surprisingly, this was not the case and doctors adopted the app really well. The founder of Practo, Shashank ND says he hopes to expand the app to a further 100 cities across India as well as more countries around the world next year.

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